Table 4

Self-reported consumer strategies for overcoming barriers to appropriate food portion size control
Portion control strategy* Typical quote
  Avoid buying tempting foods for one’s own self “I would’ve eaten big portions of bread before and that’s my weakness, so I just don’t buy bread anymore”
  Avoid buying food in larger volumes, sometimes opting for food packaged in single individually sold portions instead “I stay away from those big bags and a dozen packets of crisps for 50 pence or whatever. I eat 90% that night”
“If I bought a six pack of crisps I would’ve eaten the six bags, but instead I walk over to the shop, buy two bags and that’s me”
  Buy food already packaged into portion controlled sizes “I used to weigh rice, but now I use the bags so not anymore”
  Reduce the convenience of bulk purchased foods e.g. freezing “So now, when I buy chops, I separate them into bags, bung them into the freezer, keep one out and cook it, because If I didn’t I would eat the rest!”
  Store appropriate dinner serving sizes in advance “I might make a frittata and then I would eat it for a few days, but I’d be quite conscious about cutting that up into portions”
  Cook an appropriate portion and no more “I tend to cook just enough so there isn’t seconds [second servings], because if I cooked too much and there was some left, I’d eat it!”
  Use smaller bowls, plates and spoons “I’ve lost four stone and part of that was addressing portion size. It was something as silly as buying a smaller bowl”
  Visualise plate in segments “I just divided my plate into imaginary segments…one third is fruit and veg, one third is carb, one third is protein”
  Use object references “Grapes would be a handful, and meat, chicken or fish would be the palm of my hand, cheese would be a matchbox, and then I just sort of imagine scoops for everything else- rice or potatoes”
  Use weighing scales or cups for serving sizes that are difficult to gauge (e.g. rice, pasta, cereals, milk) “I weigh rice because it’s a fickle thing in that you put it into the pot and it grows to a size that’s three times as big so it’s really difficult…to find out how much rice is going to make a portion. You wouldn’t weigh carrots because you can see them”
  Eye-ball or gauge appropriate serving sizes based on past restrictive measuring “We used to measure our rice out and stuff like that but now I just sorta bung it in and go by eye and hope I’ve got it right”
Satiation and satiety:
  Eat satisfying portions of low energy dense foods e.g. cereals, fruit and vegetables “I stick the extra vegetables in because you can get away with the smaller portion of the meat, pasta or whatever. Stick extra vegetables in to bulk it out more and it’s also more filling”
“I have a decent bowl of branflakes every morning to keep me going for the rest of the day…to stop me overeating the rest of the day because I’m starving”
  Drink water “I drink more because it’s probably dehydration that’s making you feel hungry and not hunger”
  Eat more slowly or take a break “In my old mind, suggested serving sizes were very small, but then I got tips like maybe taking a break or kinda eating slower and you learn that that’s enough food for me”
  Eat regularly “I just eat smaller bits throughout the day”
  Know your satiation point “I just tried it, I found that was enough for me, just one scoop of pasta”

*The majority of these strategies were reported by participants who were following a medical or weight loss diet at the time of study participation.

Spence et al.

Spence et al. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013 10:92   doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-92

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